The Island that Time Forgot, Or At Least Hosed Up

By on September 23, 2005

The Chatham Islands, off the east coast of New Zealand (and a Kiwi province), are a bit off, time-wise: When it’s 5:00PM in Chicago, it’s 10:45 AM in the Chatham Islands. Read that again once. Yep, the local time zone is at UTC plus 12 hours and 45 minutes.

I looked all around online trying to figure out what on Earth would possess New Zealand to create such a weird time zone. I found some decent info on the islands themselves, and in fact, it looks like a nice vacation spot, but no explanation on the time.

The nearest I can guess is this: The Chathams are part of NZ, but they’re far enough east that observing NZ local time would be awkward (sunsets a little too early, etc). But if you went by their position, they would actually be UTC – 11, 23 hours behind New Zealand. So you’d take a three hour flight from Tuesday to Monday when you went to the Chathams. Putting them at UTC+13 would seem absurd (since there should only be plus or minus 12 hours), so they settled on almost UTC+13 with UTC+12:45. That’s total conjecture, though. I can’t find any info from the creators of this goofy arrangement. Even Deane, our resident Kiwi, had no idea.

Apparently, the Chathams are the first inhabited landmasses to see the sunrise of each new day, if you go by time.

Or, at least they were, until 1995, when the Republic of Kiribati went where New Zealand wouldn’t go, and resolved their International Date Line problem by taking the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands to UTC+13 and UTC+14, respectively. Since these Islands were at UTC-10 and UTC-11, they did it by skipping December 31st, 1994 entirely. That date technically never occurred on those islands.

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Comments

  1. Hi I’m from the Chathams and yes we are 45mins ahead of new zealand. Due to the fact that I do not have an atlas in front of me I can name the line that runs between us and new zealand, but that line puts us in a different time zone. And try as many islands did, to have themselves moved to a different time zone for the purpose of the new millenium they didn’t, and therefore missed out on the honour which is all ours, of being the first inhabited place in the world, to greet the new day. Now get looking at your atlas’s and figure it out for yourselves.

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